LeBron James Calls for Brittney Griner's Safe Return: 'Our Voice as Athletes Is Stronger Together'

WNBA player Brittney Griner was arrested and detained in Russia in February after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage

LeBron James; Brittney Griner
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James is speaking out in support of Brittney Griner as the Phoenix Mercury star, 31, remains in Russia, where she has been detained since February.

On Sunday, James, 37, shared a message on Twitter "demanding" President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris actively work on Griner's safe return.

"As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG's detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally," the Los Angeles Lakers star wrote on behalf of his company, Uninterrupted. "It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home."

"Join us in demanding that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris bring Brittney home swiftly and safely by taking action today," he continued, sharing a Change.org petition to "Secure Brittney Griner's Swift and Safe Return to the U​.​S."

"We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!!" James said. "Our voice as athletes is stronger together."

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Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow in February after vape cartridges containing hash oil were allegedly found in her luggage.

At the time, the Russia Federal Customs Service said in a statement that the WNBA star had flown to Moscow from New York when a customs service dog at the airport indicated that drugs were possibly located inside her carry-on bag. Customs officers searched the bag and allegedly found vape cartridges that contained liquid with hash oil.

Griner was later taken into custody. She has been charged with smuggling "narcotic drugs" into the country, according to the Customs Service statement. The basketball champion faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Brittney Griner
Gregory Shamus/Getty

The U.S. State Department has now classified Griner's arrest as wrongful detainment, which indicates a shift in how government officials are attempting to bring her home.

"The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"The U.S. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family."

James isn't the only NBA star who's spoken out in solidarity with Griner. Last Saturday, several Boston Celtics stars — including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — wore "We Are BG" shirts, which featured a QR code linking to the same petition, ahead of their team practice.

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"As a collective, we wanted to come out and show our support for Brittney Griner," Brown said of the shirts during a press conference. "She's been over there for an extended amount of time, and we feel like enough is enough."

Days earlier, ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league is actively working with the government to "expedite" Griner's release.

"It's been now over a hundred days since she's been illegally held in Russia," Silver said. "I think it's something that all of us should be heard on, contacting your representatives and others. I will only say we are working in lockstep with the U.S. government and outside experts on trying to expedite her release in any way we can. Certainly our hearts go out to her and her family, and just are eager for her safe return. And so I join my colleagues in the WNBA in making reference to her as well."

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